Sunday, November 23, 2008

All About Gingerbreads: Part 1

Gingerbread house creation is a big time Thanksgiving tradition in my family (my dad's side, that is). I have a significant amount of information to share on the subject, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving I've decided to dedicate the entire week of posting to:

All About Gingerbreads

Today’s installment? Overview and History

What started as an activity for all the kids the day of Thanksgiving (I mean, what else is there to do on that day, besides eat a lot and watch the Lions lose?) has become an event that all of the cousins (not to mention aunts and uncles) look forward to every year. My mom thinks I was about 10 or 11 when we started this, and if that is the case we have around 15 years of experience making these guys.

Early on, we started planning this an event for the evening of Thanksgiving. This timing is crucial. My family is large, but most cousins eat the traditional meal with the other side of the family. But the evening of Thanksgiving is a time that everyone is free from other family commitments and doesn't generally have other plans. Everyone brings an already constructed house, as well as an assortment of candy for decorating. Then we sit around a big table for an hour or two and all decorate together. It is a BLAST. Not only do we all get to see each other, but we have a fun activity to work on. I love it.

In the early years, we constructed our houses from graham crackers, often using a 6-pack carton (minus the beers, of course) as a base. Others simply bought a gingerbread kit from the store to decorate. Still others (namely, my uncle Dan) constructed forms out of wood and covered them with graham crackers. He’s made some VERY cool projects, including the Michigan Stadium and a battery-operated windmill. I hear that he is working on a “California-themed” project, as his daughter now lives there.

My mom has also gotten fancy in the last couple of years and has started to actually bake gingerbread. She starts out by searching the internet for a pattern, and then constructs a prototype out of cardboard. Once she works out the kinks of the design, she takes apart the prototype to use the pieces for cutting out the dough. You can see her creation from last year on the back - right. She has a new design picked out for this year, while I plan to use the cute Craftsman style she went with last year.

Tomorrow's installment will cover the dough. Stay tuned!


sbaar said...

Ooh, I'm excited about gingerbread week. Maybe it'll be a new tradition at our house (though I don't think I'll make it for Thanksgiving, I have enough on my plate this week). :-)

Annette said...

Lovin' the Gingerbreads! And the fact that we'll be together the WHOLE day on Thanksgiving :)

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you are actually going to be there. It is actually Jennifer that is wondering.

I have to say that last year David got in the mood and baked the gingerbread. It was a little difficult to construct the house because the walls were uneven. It was rather frustrating yet funny.

Erika said...

I am impressed! Can't wait to see the pics of Gingerbread houses from this year :) It was great to see you guys yesterday!!

Dave and Jenni said...

Wow, Jess - those are incredible. What a great tradition to have for Thanksgiving!

Lynn said...

I'm catching up, but I saw you were doing a series of posts, so I skipped to this one and will work my way up. What a fun family tradition!